Live Life More Proactively

I have lived most of my life waiting for the other shoe to drop. I turn 45 in just a few days now. Based on the average life expectancy of a healthy male in the United States, I have already lived over half my life. My message is that I always lived in fear, day to day, wondering if I would be able to make my rent, if I was saving enough for retirement, was I doing well enough at work. What happens if I get laid off or fired.

I have been living my life in fear. Living a small life, not being proactive and thinking about how I could adjust my life to live it more meaningfully.

I have worked in the tech industry for many years. Looking back, I never wanted to be in that role. I wanted to be in a more creative role. A creative role such as writing, possibly? To this day I haven’t been able to pin down exactly what would make me happy. Maybe the reason I haven’t been able to resolve this issue is because I have been going about it wrong.

In a sense, in today’s society, you find a career and the main driver is money. Money will eventually make you happy, right? No, it won’t. It might be a good carrot on a stick when I was younger, but I am driven to find purpose in the work I do.

Adding in the need for purpose just complicates an already confusing puzzle. The majority of jobs out there don’t have purpose. The majority of work is meaningless. You would be hard pressed to find meaning in organizing a random spreadsheet or putting together a slide chart for a meeting. There are exceptions of course, however the majority of work completed by people has no intrinsic value for them except to provide a paycheck.

So, maybe the answer is that there is no one single job that will provide purpose to any given individual, possibly we are meant to find purpose in multiple avenues? I think this might be more of the truth. I for one would like to volunteer more. I have volunteered for organizations in the past, and this has satisfied my itch to help others. I didn’t need to get a masters degree in psychology to volunteer at an animal shelter or hospital.

I do think that a job should provide some level of enjoyment and self satisfaction. Being a in career where you like what you are do and do what you like makes for a far more satisfacory life than constantly going against the grain, feeling like you are always swimming up stream.

That is where am currently at in my career, swimming against the stream. I think I need to swim towards shore, dry myself off and pick a different path. My arms are getting way too tired to continue doing this.

Midlife career change

How do we know where to head when we don’t know where we currently are? I have been struggling with finding my path in life for quite a while now.  I would like to change careers but I don’t know what career suites me.  I am afraid to step off the ledge.

My biggest fear would be…well, fear.  Fear of the unknown. It probably also doesn’t help that I don’t trust my intuitive instincts. I want to say that I am consciously aware of what I want and don’t want in life, but I would be lying. I struggle to understand what my base needs and desires are.

I know that I crave to live an autonomous life. I want to work for myself.  Back when I was in my late teens, I ran a small lawn care business.  I mowed a number of people’s lawns throughout the summer. It was enjoyable.  I arrived when I wanted at the job, and I took as many breaks and as long a lunch as I wanted, too.

I just struggle in seeing the big picture.  I let each day go by with no progress in sight, firm plan of what I am trying to accomplish. It’s frustrating, and time keeps ticking by. I struggle to see where I stand in this life.

I don’t feel like I fit in, especially in the corporate culture. I feel like I aged out at 40.  That is crazy to think of, but today’s work environment seems to be tailored to baby the millennial generation.   A 9-5 job pays well in some regards, but you give up a hell of a lot in return. I never really thought of it that much until recently.  You lose a lot of your freedom in some sense, and autonomy and purpose are usually put to the side in favor of what the employer’s wants are.

So, what do I want in this life? Like I said, autonomy is paramount.  I would like to pursue multiple areas of interest, if possibly.  I have bought and sold on Ebay for over twenty years. Jesus, has it been that long, really? I think pursuing a side hustle in flipping items and sourcing items from online and locally could be pretty lucrative.  I would need to build up the business, though.  Nothing is for free, well it is…but that is another story.

I want to also pursue creative work.  I am artistically inclined, though, I am very rusty and I don’t have many skills, but I am a good learner. I love to learn.  I have read a number of articles from people in the business that say after 40, you will have a hard time finding work in the creative field. I don’t know if this is true, but I think there are areas or niches where this isn’t so prevalent.  I just like the idea of working remotely and using skills that I have to earn more money.  I don’t want to rely on one employer.  I have a drive to use my creative mind, to design and create.

Helping and connecting with others is also a big drive for me.  Over the past couple months, I have joined a number of Zoom meetups, and I have met a lot of great people.  I never really explored this side of myself. I am pretty avoidant, so I don’t usually put myself out there that often. It has been a wonderful experience to open myself up to others, and be well received.   People on the whole are good.

So, that is about it. I want to work for myself, where I can use my intuition to procure items, and sell them to the highest bidder. I would also like to polish my skills in creative work, and at the same time reach out and build meaningful connections with others.

I’m sure there are others out there in the same predicament.  It seems that I have come across others who are in their early 40’s or later that have come to the realization that what they are currently doing for work is not what they would like to continue to do until they retire. And this is ok.  You are only on this planet for a finite amount of time.  I think it is wise to steer yourself onto a better path, even if some people might be dismayed by your decision.

My Aversion to Learning

Recently, I have been trying to get to the bottom of why I have an aversion to learning, in certain fields of study. The most pressing issue is that I avoid learning what I will need to know on the job.

I work in the field of information technology, and processes and programs are constantly being reworked and expanded. New content, ideas, information needs to be absorbed, digested, and utilized on a constant basis. For whatever reason I have been able to avoid learning this new information on a regular basis. The downside is that I am inadequately lacking in knowledge in many areas.

I believe the root of this issue revolves around my identity. While growing up, I was never really given room to develop my own identity. My father, who was overbearing and too much a bad presence in my life, tried his best to mold his boys to be just like him.  He did not see his boys as individuals but small mirrors of himself. This had a dramatic affect on my development.

When I chose to get a degree in Networking and Computing Systems from a local college, it in no small way reflected this warped identity I had of myself and what my interests were. Looking back, I would have been much better suited to land a degree in graphic design or any other field where creativity is praised.

Instead I got a degree in Computing systems. Not a long shot from my father’s career path, having spent  40+ years at Boeing in the field of Networks.

I believe the single reason I avoided learning new information in the field I chose was that I felt I was being inauthentic to myself.  The identity that I had created for myself in my late teens was not of myself but rather a mirror of my father’s identity.

The very choice of the field, was not one I would have selected had I not been trying to mirror my father.  I felt that I was being inauthentic to myself when I tried learning any new topic in the field of computing.  I can only say what a mess this has been for me, career wise.

Fast forward three years after experiencing an existential crisis,  I am now much more aware of who I am.  I have a unique identity of my own, and I don’t feel that I am being inauthentic to myself.   This translates over to learning more about the field of technology.  I have learned over the past few years that I enjoy learning.

This has freed me from having feelings of regret, when I need to learn about a topic related to my job.   Knowledge is just knowledge, it doesn’t have to be tied to my identity.  I can learn for the sake of learning!


Is it too late?

I travelled up to the community college that I had gone to so many years ago, yesterday.  It was eerie and bitter sweet to revisit the college that I had spent many days in my youth.

The transfer advisor that I had been hoping to speak with was not in the office, however, though, his assistant was. Youthful and kind, she did not have much knowledge or experience; because of this she was unable to assist me.

I plan on heading back up to the college in the coming days. college transfer advisors are elusive creatures. Always in meeting or taking a medical leave of absence. I just want to figure out if my credits are worth anything anymore.

It seems like the college institutions operate a lot like the government, or even large hospitals. They operate on their own time, and by their own standards, almost like they are stuck in a time warp. I would much rather see all college classes shift online. The cost of tuition should decrease dramatically.

In this day and age, you don’t need to be in the same classroom as the teacher to learn. Make it easier on everyone and allow students to connect remotely. Stop the madness, please!

Well, getting back to my original thought, I am in the process of figuring out how I can possibly cobble together a bachelors degree over the next few years.   This will take a lot more planning.  I don’t want to take a lot of classes just to get a piece of paper, and realize that it was all for nothing.

This is what I am trying to do more of, strategically plan ahead.  I have always just blindly run into things. My intuition would validate the thought that I was having at the time I had it and that would usually be enough for me to pursue my goal.  I don’t see that as the most prudent route anymore.  You have to look farther down the road and weigh more variables to get a better understanding if you are truly making the right decision.

Oh well, it could be worse.  I could be addicted to drugs.  Haha,  I bring this up because this is the exact thing my dad said to me numerous times.  He reads the news way too much and I guess there are a ton of articles highlighting the heroin epidemic in America.  Hey, misery sells so I can’t blame them for writing what people want to read.  Not me, though.  I have mostly stopped reading and watching the news.  It’s really not news anymore.   I got better shit to do with my time,  like trying to resurrect my career and figuring out how to go back to school!

Like I said,  life can be a lot worse.  I complain about not have a secure future, but there are so many in life that have it much worse than me.   It is important for me to acknowledge that I am lucky, and that I should be grateful for what I have.

So, in short, I continue to plod along. Not unlike a little cork in the middle of the ocean, I make my way slowly along the currents of life.



Where Do I Go From Here?

After getting off the bus in the late afternoon, yesterday,  I drove twenty minutes north to attend a Toastmasters meeting.  I have never really been the first one to speak up in a group setting. I have always been content to stay silent and let others speak for me.

As I have gotten older, I have become keenly aware that my lack of visibility in team meetings, and group outings can have a detrimental affect on how I perceive myself, and how I am perceived by others.

I guess what I am saying is that when you choose to behave like you are invisible in life, don’t expect many opportunities to come your way.

Naturally, I am a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).  For me to actively extrovert throughout the day, it thoroughly drains me. When I get home, I feel like I had run a twenty five mile marathon. I conserve energy by purposefully not taking in all the sights and sounds that occur around me, on a daily basis. Working in a loud single room with dozens of cubicles causes my soul to wither.

With all the distractions and obligation to extrovert in order to win the favor of my extroverted manager, I feel like an abject failure, at the end of the day. Even when things go well, they don’t really.  My job doesn’t fit me, my coworkers for the most part don’t fit me, the work is something I could walk away from today, and not feel the slightest bit of remorse.  God, this is starting to sound depressing.

Getting back to why I went to a Toastmasters meeting,  I wanted to do something outside the norm for me.  I already feel anxious about my career, and what lays ahead of me in the near future, but to push myself slightly more outside my comfort zone, it feels exhilarating.  It gives me a sense of hope that maybe, just maybe, I can be something different, I can reimagine myself and my future.

In order to make a career shift, it will take persistence and dedication.  It is scary not being able to see what is just over the hill, but then again it is also exhilarating too.  Life is a journey, it is meant to be experienced.  I want to get to the end of my life and look back and be proud of what I have accomplished.  So far, I cannot say that about myself, for the most part.

If you never take chances in life, and strive to grow into a better version of yourself, life becomes stagnant and you run the risk of missing out on some great opportunities.

So, my advice for myself and you is…get out there and take measured chances, speak to new people, learn new things, grow a little every day. Your soul will thank you for the effort.


Fear of Learning

I have had a deep fear of learning, ever since I can remember.  Actually, it is a deeper fear than that.  I also fear taking chances. I fear visiting a new restaurant to reading a new book.

I believe my deep seated fear lies in the chance that I will be made a fool, or shamed in some way.   That I will never be competent in the task at hand.

From my past history, as a child, I felt that I could never truly please my father or meet his lofty expectations.  To avert these feelings of shame and inadequacy, I would just not try.  Problem solved.

I found that if I did not try, I could avoid my father’s critiques, for the most part. Unfortunately, this mindset has followed me into adulthood, and it has had a tremendous affect on the trajectory of my life.

My career or lack there of has languished for years now.  I have come to the conclusion that I am afraid of trying because I feel that I am not competent to do the task.  Funny, since in order to be competent at something, you first have to put in the time and effort to master the skill.

This just leaves me in an endless loop of never fully committing to anything, because of this aversion.  Why does it seem that the majority can push through this cognitive block, and I cannot. I don’t think I fully comprehended how much of an affect it has had on my life and career.

I guess what I am saying is that I am not very conscious or self aware.  It is blind spot that I have dealt with my whole life.  How can I be so blind to the fact that I have been running all these years in place.  I want to be more proactive, and take charge of my life.

I don’t want to languish any longer in a dead end job.  What can I do right now that will get me in a better position in life?  It would best to speak to a career counselor or advisor?  Probably.

Maybe, I am not alone.  I would guess there are others out there that have been on auto pilot in their careers, or just life in general, too?  I am wondering how they have pulled themselves out of this ditch.   

If you care comment, if you have been in the same situation, please do.  I would be curious to what you have to say.

How do I know this time will be different?

Why haven’t I tried more? What in my career and in life in general has caused me to be so blind to the fact that I am not making much progress?

I am passive. I don’t purposefully pursue what is in my best interest for the long run. I am future focused but I am not.   I have not planned out my career, as I should have, and now I am in a bind.

I tell myself that I am going to get my shit together, and that this time it will be different, but really, if I am honest with myself, will it really?  How can I trust myself after pulling this shit, over the past 40+ years.

Am I a loser?  Because I don’t have a wife, a secure cushy job and a four year degree? Possibly, in the eyes of many Americans.  We live our lives by the ideals of our society. If we happen to not meet those expectations, many of us cannot help to feel like we are abject failures.

So, in short, I don’t know if this time it will be different.  All I can do is try my best, and make better plans for my future.  I’m a bit of a dreamer, so it is very easy for me to get lost in my head.  I will just need to be more self aware.

I don’t know what is in store for me, and my future.  I should be grateful for what I have and be thankful that I am healthy.  There are a lot less fortunate people out there in the world, and a person’s personal perspective can become clouded with their less consequential misfortunes, easily.

I guess what I have to say is that nobody is holding my feet to the fire.  If I don’t like my current predicament, well then, I best do something about it.  I plan to go see a career counselor, and I am going to look into completing my bachelors degree.

Complaining and ruminating only saps a person’s energy. It is best to plan a a course of action and take it.  Any direction at this point is fine by me!

Never Settle!

The amount of friction that I have felt in my current job role has sapped me emotionally, and physically. However,  I have a tendency to muscle through obstacles when the going gets tough.  I persevere.

I had somewhat of an epiphany, this morning, or understanding of exactly what I was doing.  I was settling.   Settling for a mundane life, where I never want to get up and go to a job where I feel out of place and where my true skills, I feel, are not being used.

To me, this is a wasted life, and potential. To settle, and not fully comprehend how much of an emotional drain it has been on me.  Feeling like I am dragging a fifty pound weight behind me, on a daily basis.

I do know why I continue on like this.  It is because the answer to my solution, is not completely clear, and I fear change.  This is no excuse for me not to actively explore how possibly I can pull myself out of this mess, and create a life and career that is more meaningful and authentic to me.

I don’t want to settle anymore.  life is way too short to settle.  To settle, you give up on so much of your life’s potential. To settle, you automatically push away and shutter any dreams that you have for your future self.

The enemy of settling is dreaming.  Dream about what you would like to truly do.  Dream for the sake of just dreaming.  In today’s world, it seems that practicality has taken the place of dreaming.

Dreaming harnesses the energy of a creative mind.  Instead of being practical, dare to dream about what you want to accomplish and attain in life.  All great ideas and accomplishments start out as a dream.

If you too are in a position in your life where you feel that you want to make a change but it seems that your feet are encased in a cement block, reach out for help.  Speak to someone about what you are wrestling with.  I believe that only when we are able to drag our problems out into the light, will we get a better understanding and perspective on how to address them.

Until next time, keep dreaming!

What does it take to find work that you love to do

I was thinking about where in my career I currently am and how I got here.  Am I lazy, or do I just not have the where-with-all to pick a career path and make it work?

I can say that I am not lazy.  I am driven by my desire to become the best authentic self that I can be.   Maybe this is why I feel consternation and anxiety when I try to force myself to learn a topic which I don’t feel is authentic to me.   What I do has to in some way connect directly with my core.

But it can be said that you will not always have the luxury to choose what you need to learn to get the job done, however,  I would preface this with, it is up to you to move your career in a direction where the daily work that you are tasked with is in direct alignment with who you are and your strengths.  Not doing so will only bring great hardship and regret in your present life, and later years.

I don’t have an excuse, really.  By staying in my current position, all I am accomplishing is wasting more time, and feeling a deep sense of loathing.   The key for me is to find work where I am able to create.  The path to that is not so clear cut, and to feel my way forward, I will need to take chances.

I currently am learning how to use Adobe illustrator and After Effects.  I enjoy both these programs.  The freedom to express myself using this medium of digital design and animation is refreshing.   I still have anxiety, not knowing if the time I spent using the programs with bring any sort of real value to me.

I think the key here is to get my work out there on this or another blog, and show what I have learned.  I have a need to share and teach, along with a desire to be competent in what I do.  Learning a task is one thing, but the process of learning and applying the task is on a completely different plane.

The is the thing, you have to do the thing before you find out that it will work out for you.  Many people with not take the leap of faith to try new things, because they don’t see a clear cut path.

It comes back to curiosity, courage, and having the sense to invest time in work and play where it brings you joy.

I still don’t know what my future career path will be.  I want to continue to explore visual design, and creative thinking.  I enjoy journaling and writing on this blog,  and maybe having no reservations or high expectations of what this will bring is the best way to exploring what I want.

Fear of failure is a fear of shame


I was reading an article lately about fearing failure. I think I have dealt with this the majority of my life. I have never been one to put myself out there.  I never saw the benefit equal or better than the cost of looking inept or stupid.

Recently, I have taken another deeper look at my fear of trying. What I discovered is something more telling about not only my fears but others as well. It was mentioned in an article that a fear of failure is essentially a fear of shame.   It is not that the person cannot cope with the feelings of disappointment, anger, or frustration, but that failing at something causes them to feel a deep sense of shame!

Shame has to be one of or the most powerful deterrents for stopping someone from trying.  Shame is insidious. It seeps into our souls, and infects our minds with deep, ephemeral feelings of fear, disgust, loathing.

Shame is something that will bend and break an individual’s soul, twisting it to and fro, with no mercy or pity.  I have dealt with shame for the better part of my life.   Shame of how incompetent I felt when performing new tasks.  Shame of my body, feeling like I did not meet the world’s standards.  Shame of my appearance.

The thing is, someone with deep shame, will never be successful. They will not be able to live a fulfilling life. They are destined to live a life of self imposed torment.  Living a life of mediocrity, never having the courage to raise their head and shoulders to meet the world’s gaze.   I don’t look down upon others that have shame in their hearts, I am empathetic to their plight.  I too have had shame burned into my soul for many years.

But, just because you have shame, does not give you the excuse not to fight the dark evil within you that is sucking the life-force out o your soul. And I believe you must fight.  Life is so damn precious and time passes so quickly, you owe it to yourself to stand and fight.  Seek help from a therapist, or counselor, do whatever you have to do to help relinquish the grip shame has on your heart.  It is well worth the effort.